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The past few weeks, I’ve been listening to bits of sarcasm thrown into several of my meetings.  Now, everyone has their own way of communicating and trying to get their point across to others.  But, when sarcasm is present, it’s pretty hard to understand what’s actually being said.

For example, “I love reading this newspaper every day!  But, the price just increased.  Isn’t that awesome?”  Or, how about this, “I’ve been working on this report for days and then I was told to go in a different direction, which is really great.”  (you get the idea…awesome and great are being substituted for a word like, “awful” or “terrible”)

I don’t know about you, but sarcasm in the workplace isn’t necessary.  For one thing, sometimes I have no idea if you’re being serious.  Especially if I’m not familiar with you or your communication style.  And another thing, we work on diverse teams. Your sarcasm may take on a different meaning with some of my colleagues.  In fact, after a few weeks of listening to this sarcasm and getting annoyed..wondering if anyone else was picking up on this, I heard a colleague ask for clarification regarding an email that was sent WITH sarcasm.  The question was met with more sarcasm and this response: “really, you don’t get what I’m saying?  No one would say that for real.  Jeez!”  

Yes, really, that’s a true story.

What to do?  I’m not a robot who doesn’t understand sarcasm or who can’t roll with it and play along….however, I don’t believe it should be used frequently in a professional setting where people are taking you at your word and trying to deliver results based on the communication and feedback you’re providing.  It’s confusing, unclear, unprofessional, and simply frustrating.  Instead of trying to insert humor, just say it.

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